A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.
The game is about saving the innocent and attacking evil -- which is inherently a positive message -- but the main character relies heavily on violence -- which is not a very positive message.
Positive Role Models
Gamers play as a seasoned warrior named Lightning, who attempts to save human souls while battling creatures big and small. It's a noble task, but the game has a lot of fantasy violence, which doesn't make for positive role modeling. Plus, a character buys alcohol to replenish her health.
Ease of Play
The game isn't difficult to play on the PlayStation 3 version tested for this review. Along with a short tutorial on how to control Lightning, players can pause the game to review the controller layout. Combat does get tricky, however, with timing playing a critical role in attacks and blocks.
Violence & Scariness
The game is centered heavily around violence. From a third-person perspective, gamers use swords, guns, and magical attacks to fight against beasts, robots, and humans. Some of the battle sequences are dramatized in slow motion. There is blood and some potentially disturbing cut scenes with characters impaled, piles of bodies, and pools of blood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Many of the game's female characters -- including the lead protagonist -- often wear revealing clothing, including low-cut tops that expose cleavage. Plus, the camera angles sometimes zoom in and lock on a female's chest or buttocks. There are no sexual references in the dialogue, however.
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The game has some mild profanity, including the words "ass," "damn," "hell," and "bastard."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There are a few references to alcohol in the dialogue sequences, and Lightning can purchase beer and tequila as an energy boost. In one mission, Lightning must obtain some expensive alcohol for him to accept a quest.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a role-playing video game that is rated "Teen." This is largely due to frequent violence -- using might and magic -- as well as blood and potentially disturbing death sequences. The game also features women with revealing clothing, a camera that often focuses on it, and mild profanity. There is some alcohol consumption, and there are some alcohol references, in the game.
Is It Any Good?
It's not as good as the previous Final Fantasy XIII games, but this final chapter does excel in deep customization options (weapons, skills, and outfits), stunning graphics (especially the cut-scene sequences but also the huge set pieces), and an interesting combat mechanic that blends speed with strategy. Problem is, this concluding adventure in the series feels more repetitive than its predecessors -- encounter enemies, defeat, move on, and start the process again -- plus the story is unnecessarily convoluted (many Japanese RPG fans already expect this, but Lightning Returns is even more difficult to understand). It's not a bad game overall, mind you, but only major fans of the series will get something substantial out of it. Note: The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions are the same.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.